The species of plants you can grow only in water, without any soil base, is truly amazing. So, if you are ready for a shift from the conventional gardening to this water gardening, start now.
Indeed, why not grow your favorite “go-to” herbs in water and keep them close at hand? Water-born herbs grow full of flavor just as those you grow outdoors in the garden. The advantage here is that you don’t have to mess up with soil, or worry about regular plant watering, or changing weather seasons.
While most herbs will be happy growing in water, only those raised from cuttings are easier to start in water. The cilantro, mustard and dill are a bit tricky though because you need to sow the seeds in soil, or another proxy medium, and then do the transfer of the seedlings to water.
Do not hesitate: soil-to-water transition is not impossible! It may not always come successful because soil-grown roots are a bit different from those water-grown.
This is what you need to grow herbs in water
You can root herb cuttings in glass bottles filled with plain water and place them on your kitchen sill. Tap water (left to air overnight) is fine, and so is stored rainwater. The best is spring or well water – it has some amount of dissolved minerals that are quickly absorbed by the plants.
Note: Avoid using chlorinated water with fragile plants as the bleaching chemical is not exactly friendly to plant tissues.
Mason jars, glass bottles, or even plastic bottles will do the job. Generally, roots like to grow in shade, so colored containers, especially those amber-colored ones, are the best. Or you can do this trick: just wrap a piece of thick cloth around the bottle to keep the roots in the dark. This will also prevent algal growth on the container’s walls and on the root surface. Even though Algae do not adversely affect plant growth, they make the bottles look dirty.
When choosing a container, opt for a narrow-mouthed container for an advantage: it can support the cuttings and keep them nearly upright. Yet, the mouth of the container shouldn’t be too narrow or tight-fitting around the cutting. The mouth of the container should allow free air flow since the roots have to breathe.
Note: If you choose a wide-mouthed container, you have the option of covering the top with nylon or wire netting. Just pull the cuttings through the holes, and that will offer support to the cuttings. This container is a better choice for warmer areas especially as the netting prevents mosquitoes from laying eggs in the water and multiplying.
3. Plant cuttings
With soft cuttings you don’t need to use any rooting hormones – they are quick to root in water. Just snip off 6-inch (or 15cm) sections from your herbs’ growing tips, and put them in the water-filled containers. The best thing about growing herbs from cuttings is that you can use the ones you get right from the supermarket! Just wash them under running water and cut off their lower part.
Then remove lower leaves from cuttings and trim the lower tips close to the nodes from where the roots arise. Insert them into the bottles, and make sure that leaves are not touching the water. If so, they can rot easily and spoil the water, as they do in flower vases.
Best 6 herbs you can grow in water
1.Peppermint – This is a very good herb for medicinal uses because it contains high amounts of the volatile substance menthol. If you have tried it, you know it gives a pleasant cooling sensation on the skin and tongue, while not causing any temperature variation.
Growing peppermint in water is easy: Just put fresh cuttings in water to regrow brand new plants.
2.Spearmint – It is another mint variety – a relative of peppermint. In fact, peppermint is a natural hybrid of spearmint and an aquatic mint that is known as water mint.
3.Oregano – This pungent herb is worth growing indoors because you can use the leaves to flavor almost any dish. Take cuttings of fresh growth and pot them up in fresh water. Start pinching the growing tips as soon as the plant starts to grow well.
4.Basil – It’d love the warmth of your kitchen! Take cuttings any time before it starts flowering. The best way to preserve your varieties of basil during winter is growing cuttings in water.
5.Sage – Take soft cuttings in the spring and root them in water. You may need only 1-2 sage plants because only very tiny amounts are needed to feel its flavor. Grow the plant in bright light and in a well-aerated place because this herb is prone to mildew.
6.Stevia – This sweet plant is good to have in the house to add to freshly brewed teas and beverages instead of sugar. Take cuttings of actively growing soft branches and place them in water. Provide a warm place and plenty of light to keep this tropical plant happy and full of sweetness.
Best 6 houseplants to grow in water
Not just herbs, but other houseplants do equally well in water.
1.Pothos –This plant is commonly grown in water. Take tip cuttings of any length and put the cut end into some water making sure that 2-3 nodes are submerged in water.
2.Arrowhead – It is similar to pothos. Tip cuttings can be potted up with a few nodes below the water level.
3.Philodendrons– Dainty heart-leaved philodendrons, as well as the large, split-leaved types do equally well in water. Take 6-8 inch cuttings of growing tips and put them in a container that can support its weight.
4.Peace lily – You can pot up divisions or use an entire plant growing in a pot. Just wash off all the soil from the roots and put it in a bowl of water.
5.Aluminum plant – Cuttings of this beautiful plant with silver markings thrive in water too.
6.Dracena – Sections of the cane can be rooted and grown in water, but support is essential for these top heavy plants.
Best 6 vegetables to grow in water
The watercress, the water chestnut, the wasabi, and the lotus are some of the food plants that grow in water naturally. Also, many terrestrial vegetables can adapt to growing in water as well. Leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach do extremely well in water.
They seem to be ‘happier’ than their counterparts growing in the soil since they get a continuous supply of water and are not bothered by soil pathogens either.
1.Lettuce – Hydroponic farmers just love this vegetable! The easiest way to grow them hydroponically is to start the seeds in netted cups. When they get bigger, order them into the beds containing growing medium.
2.Spinach – This leafy vegetable is grown in the same way as described above for the lettuce.
3.Tomatoes – Tomato seeds started in individual cups are inserted into the growing medium. High yields are typical of hydroponically-cultivated tomatoes.
4.Peppers – Their ‘cultural requirements’ are similar to the tomatoes’.
5.Cucumbers – Bush type cucumbers are preferred for hydroponics. The climbing type would need extra support.
6.Celery – Growing celery without soil is a bonus: it means no dirt deposited over the leaf bases. So, it makes cleaning the vegetable very easy.
How to feed water-grown plants
Plants grown in pure water will soon exhaust what little mineral nutrients the water contains. Since they do not have any access to the nutrients naturally occurring in the soil, and much needed for their development, they need supplemental nutrition to do well. Regular fertilizers diluted in water [or proprietary formulations designed for hydroponics] can be used at regular intervals as well.
Note: When you use fertilizers to feed water-born plants, they leave some residues that may accumulate in the water and on the roots, causing root burn. So, do change the water at regular intervals and flush the containers occasionally.
Growing plants in water and inert media (Hydroponics)
Apart from providing minerals required for plant growth, the soil also functions as a support for the plants and provides a medium for ‘anchoring’ the roots. When plants are grown without soil, the lack of proper support can be a limiting factor! Soil acts as a reservoir of water and fertilizers added to it, and then releases both in a controlled manner.
Sand, gravel, perlite, vermiculite coconut fiber are all inert, natural media. Coconut chips are sometimes added to water containers to serve as support. Certain products [like lightweight expanded clay and rock wool] are especially manufactured for this purpose. Also, special nutrient formulations are mixed with water to provide continuous nourishment to the plants which is why hydroponic systems typically give very high yield year around.